- "You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
- —Jor-El to Kal-El
Man of Steel is a 2013 American superhero film directed by Zack Snyder, produced by Christopher Nolan, and scripted by David S. Goyer. Based on the DC Comics character Superman, the film is a reboot of the Superman film series that portrays the character's origin story. The film stars Henry Cavill in the title role, with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and Russell Crowe as Jor-El.
Development began in 2008 when Warner Bros. Pictures took pitches from comic book writers, screenwriters and directors, opting to reboot the franchise. In 2009, a court ruling resulted in Jerry Siegel's family recapturing the rights to Superman's origins and Siegel's copyright. The decision stated that Warner Bros. did not owe the families additional royalties from previous films, but if they did not begin production on a Superman film by 2011, then the Shuster and Siegel estates would be able to sue for lost revenue on an unproduced film. Nolan pitched Goyer's idea after story discussion on The Dark Knight Rises, and Snyder was hired as the film's director in October 2010. Principal photography began in August 2011 in West Chicago, Illinois, before moving to Vancouver and Plano, Illinois.
Man of Steel's red carpet premiere in the U.S. was attended by its principal cast members in New York City on June 10, 2013. The film was released to the general public on June 14, 2013, in conventional, 3D and IMAX theaters.
A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
Jor-El flies to Kandor on his pet H'Raka where he stands in front of the Kryptonian Law Council and warns them that the planet will soon crumble due to the intensive mining of resources near the planet's core. They reply that the planet is stable and the tremors are not "symptoms" of crumbling. General Zod comes and invites Jor-El to join his coup to overthrow the council. Jor-El refuses and swims to evacuate the Growth Codex. He bonds it to his son's cells. They evacuate their son, and the Command Key in the space-craft which flies to Earth.
. Jor-El battles Zod until Zod kills him. Then a fleet surrrounds and arrests Zod and his followers. The Law Council members sentence Zod and his followers to the Phantom Zone for 300 years. Zod angrily calls them fools. He threatens Lara that he will find Kal-El and reclaim the Codex. A spacecraft flies the prisoners away to to the Phantom Zone [in contrast to the version Superman (1978)]. Unexpectedly, Krypton's core collapses and planet-wide eruptions destroy Krupton which explodes... freeing the prisoners. Kal-El lands in the field of a farm operated by Jonathan and Martha Kent.
Kal-El, now known as Clark Kent has grown up to be an adult and is working on a crab boat when an Oil Rig in the distance is on fire. Jumping overboard and swimming over, he begins to help people get to safety as the Coast Guard arrives to get people to safety. When a piece of rigging threatens to fall on them, Clark holds it up long enough for them to get clear before an explosion sends Clark flying into the water. Whilst unconscious, Clark remembers back to being 9 when his Super Hearing, X-Ray Vision, and Heat Vision first manifested at school and Martha helped him control those new abilities.
Returning ashore, Clark steals some clothes and skips town, seeing a school bus on the way reminding him of when he was 13 and was bullied by boys in his class. The school bus they were on crashed over a bridge and Clark saved it from drowning revealing his powers to Lana Lang and Pete Ross. Back home Jonathan revealed to Clark the reason for his powers showing him his ship in the barn and giving him the Command Key.
Clark is now working in a highway bar where he overhears some men talking about the military looking for an object under the ice of Ellesmere Island. An argument breaks out soon after and Clark destroys the truck of the man responsible, before skipping town in the direction of the alien ship.
Lois Lane arrives via chopper to cover the object and has her bags carried by Clark who is now working there. The operation led by Colonel Hardy working with Emil Hamilton aren't pleased to see Lois there early. Clark, away from the military, burrows through the ice with his heat vision before inserting the Command Key. Lois sees and follows him getting attacked by the defenses of the ship as well, prompting Clark to cauterize her wound with his heat vision, he then activates the ship flying it away and drops Lois off in the morning to an area where the military could find her. A projection of his real father, Jor-El appears who informs Clark of his name and purpose on Earth. Jor-El reveals the history of Krypton and gives Clark a suit that belonged to one of his ancestors which he puts on and goes outside learning to fly before zooming off into the sky.
General Zod and his minions are in space searching for Kryptonian survivors where they retrieve an ancient Terraforming Generator before they pick up the ship's signal and track it to Earth.
Lois returns to Metropolis with her story for her editor Perry White who informs her that he can't run a story about alien ships and a super powered being because they aren't possible. To give her story traction, Lois leaks it to internet blogger Glen Woodburn who posts it online.
Lois then proceeds to track down her mystery man by gathering evidence through the various jobs he has had over the years, finally tracking him down to Smallville where she gathers information from Pete Ross. Clark returns to Smallville and informs Lois of the reason he conceals his powers, and the circumstances around his adopted father's death. Lois returns to Metropolis and tells Perry she is dropping the story but he and the Daily Planet's investors aren't happy she leaked the story and she is given 2 weeks leave without pay.
General Zod flew to Earth and orbits it. He transmits a threat via all radio and television devices, throughout the world: bring me Kal-El or I will destroy you. Clark sees this, and consults his priest at a Smallville church, doubting his surrender will save any lives anyway. He flies to Peterson Air Force Base where he surrenders himself.
Elsewhere, the FBI takes Lois into custody for questioning about her interaction with the alien that is the cause of the threat. Kal then tells the humans that he is not their enemy. The FBI led Superman to Zod's smaller transport vehicle, in a desert. Faora Hu-Ul takes superman prisoner and also demands Lois. She consents and Kal secretly slips the Command Key to her.
Lois wears a breathing-visor due to the Kryptonian atmosphere aboard the Black Zero. Superman struggles to adjust to this unfamiliar atmosphere. They shackle him. Zod demands he join the revival of Krypton on Earth. Zod's crew went to search for the Codex.
In the cell, Lois saw a socket and plugs the Command Key. The Artificial Intelligence of Jor-El opened the cell and guides Lois to an escape pod. It also switched the atmosphere so Superman breaks free and saves Lois.
Then he flew to his mother, because Zod threatens Martha Kent. Superman saves her and wrestles with Zod. Superman damages Zod's breathing-helmet. The benefit of Earth atmosphere stimulates Zod's senses, but too many voices are overwhelming, so Zod falls helpless. Superman battles Faora and Nam-Ek in Smallville.
The military shoots ineffective weapons at the aliens. As the Kryptonians harm the Earthlings, Superman is busy saving the Earthlings, which earns the trust of a colonel. The duo see their leader Zod lay helplessly weak and retreat carrying him to Black Zero.
Zod orders the release of the World Engine which lands in the Indian Ocean, as they pilot Black Zero above Metropolis (on the other side of the planet), before activating the huge gravity beam that begins terraforming Earth into New Krypton. Kal-El flies to the Indian Ocean, and begins attacking the World Engine, which has liquid metal defenses that attack back. After great effort, he destroys the engine (by flying through the gravity beam), as Zod is in the Arctic, stealing the scout ship.
Kal-El then flies to Metropolis and lands in the ship, before bringing it down crashing through skyscrapers, into the ground of Metropolis. The military are deployed to take out Black Zero but the gravity beam affects their instruments and missiles. Lois and Hardy are aboard a C-17 with Kal-El's ship which he gave to them to use against Black Zero. Faora arrives on the plane and throws Lois out, who is captured in mid air by Kal-El before
Hardy flies the plane into Black Zero, creating a temporary black hole portal to the Phantom Zone, which sucks everything inside it, including Black Zero and the plane that Hardy and Faora are on. After Kal-El puts Lois down next to Perry and Jenny as they kiss, before he goes to confront an enraged Zod, who vows to kill all of humanity in revenge. The two aliens then have a devastating battle across Metropolis (and briefly, outer space), destroying several buildings, cars, and a satellite in the process. Zod then rips off his armor, and learns to fly, as the two continue to battle, without either gaining the upper hand. The two land inside Metropolis Central Station, and Zod attempts to ruthlessly slaughter a family of innocent bystanders via his heat vision. Kal-El grapples with Zod, trying to avert the latter's heat vision, but he has no choice but to snap Zod's neck, killing him. He lets out his frustration after having a messed up day as Lois arrives to console a deeply hurt Kal-El.
As a clean-up operation begins in Metropolis, General Swanwick has drones try to track down Superman's whereabouts, determined to find his address. Superman, however, isn't pleased, and proceeds to slam one of the drones into the ground, right in front of Swanwick's car, much to the latter's dismay. Superman assures the general that, having grown up in Kansas, he is technically an American himself, so he would never act against the United States' interests. However, while Superman will always remain an ally to both America and all of Earth, he requests that it be done on his own terms, and that he trusts Swanwick's ability to convince Washington D.C. of that. With that said, Superman takes flight again at supersonic speeds, leaving Captain Farris smiling, in awe of the handsome alien.
Clark returns to Smallville to speak with his mother Martha, the two peacefully think back to a 9-year-old Clark playing in the garden, running around with a makeshift red cape on his back, with Jonathan looking upon him with pride, knowing that his adopted son will one day change the world.
In a still devastated Metropolis a couple of months later, Clark is on a bike and arrives at the Daily Planet, putting on glasses so that nobody instantly recognizes him as the alien hero who was dubbed 'Superman' and is greeted by Lois, the only one who knows this secret.
Organizations and titles
Vehicles and vessels
Behind the Scenes
In June 2008, Warner Bros. took pitches from comic book writers, screenwriters and directors on how to successfully restart the Superman film series. Comic book writers Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer were among those who pitched their ideas for a reboot. "I told them, it’s not that bad. Just treat Superman Returns as the Ang Lee Hulk," Morrison said. "The Incredible Hulk has proven the audience will forgive you and let you redo the franchise," said Waid. Morrison's idea was similar to his work on All-Star Superman, while Waid's was akin to Superman: Birthright. Mark Millar, teaming with director Matthew Vaughn, also planned an epic eight-hour Superman trilogy, each installment released a year apart, similar to The Lord of the Rings. Millar compared it to the Godfather trilogy, in which it would chronicle the entire life of Superman, from the early days of Krypton to the finale where Superman loses his powers as the Sun starts to supernova.
In August 2008, Warner Bros. suggested a reboot of the film series. Studio executive Jeff Robinov planned to have the film released either by 2010 or 2011, explaining "Superman Returns didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to. It didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned. Had Superman worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009. Now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman without regard to a Batman and Superman movie at all." Paul Levitz stated in an interview that Batman holds the key to the Superman reboot. He elaborated, "Everyone is waiting for Nolan to sign on for another Batman, once that happens, the release date for Superman and all other future projects will follow." In February 2009, McG, who previously planned to direct Superman: Flyby, expressed interest in returning to the Superman franchise. August 2009 saw a court ruling in which Jerry Siegel's family recaptured 50% of the rights to Superman's origins and Siegel's share of the copyright in Action Comics #1. In addition, a judge ruled that Warner Bros. did not owe the families additional royalties from previous films. However, if they did not begin production on a Superman film by 2011, then the Siegel estate would have been able to sue for lost revenue on an unproduced film.
The plot of Man of Steel employs a nonlinear narrative, and tells parts of the story in flashback. During story discussions for The Dark Knight Rises in 2008, David S. Goyer told Christopher Nolan his idea regarding how to present Superman in a modern context. Impressed with Goyer's concept, Nolan pitched the idea to the studio, who hired Nolan to produce and Goyer to write based on the financial and critical success of The Dark Knight. Nolan admired Bryan Singer's work on Superman Returns for its connection to Richard Donner's version, stating that "A lot of people have approached Superman in a lot of different ways. I only know the way that has worked for us that's what I know how to do," emphasizing the idea that Batman exists in a world where he is the only superhero and a similar approach to the Man of Steel would assure the integrity needed for the film. "Each serves to the internal logic of the story. They have nothing to do with each other." Nolan, however, clarified that the new film would not have any relationship with the previous film series.
Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, spoke to Entertainment Weekly, and allowed a peek over the wall of secrecy surrounding their DC Comics plans: "It's setting the tone for what the movies are going to be like going forward. In that, it's definitely a first step." Plans included for the film to contain references to the existence of other superheroes, alluding to the possibility of a further DC Universe, and setting the tone for a shared fictional universe of DC Comics characters on film. Guillermo del Toro, with whom Goyer worked on Blade II, turned down the director's position on the reboot because of his commitment on a film adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness, while Robert Zemeckis was also approached. Ben Affleck, Darren Aronofsky, Duncan Jones, Jonathan Liebesman, Matt Reeves, and Tony Scott were considered as potential directors, before Zack Snyder was hired in October 2010. Casting began the following November. Zack Snyder confirmed both Booster Gold and Batman references in the film, indicating their presence in the DC shared film universe. When Zod destroys a satellite, the words "Wayne Enterprises" are scrolled on the satellite.
Principal photography began on August 1, 2011, at an industrial park near DuPage Airport under the codename "Autumn Frost". Zack Snyder expressed reluctance to shooting the film in 3-D, due to the technical limitations of the format, and instead chose to shoot the film two-dimensionally and convert the film into 3-D in post production, for a 2-D, 3-D, and IMAX 3-D release. Snyder also chose to shoot the film on film instead of digitally, because he felt it would make the film, "a big movie experience". Filming was expected to last for two to three months. Production took place in Plano, Illinois on August 22 to 29. According to an interview with Michael Shannon, filming would continue until February 2012.
Man of Steel filmed in the Chicago area, California and Burnaby's Mammoth Studios was transformed into Superman's home planet of Krypton and myriad extraterrestrial aircraft. Metro lands on Vancouver's North Shore waterfront hosted the shoot for the dramatic oil rig rescue that introduces audiences to Superman. Ucluelet and Nanaimo, British Columbia, feature prominently in the film’s first hour—the trademark winter mist and rough seas are passed off as Alaska in the film. Filming took place in the Chicago Loop from September 7 to 17.Vancouver production took place from September 21, 2011, to January 20, 2012. The Chicago shoot was a unit project, meaning that filming could partake numerous establishing shots as well as cutaways and may not necessarily include principal cast members.
Man of Steel received mixed reviews with a score of 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 289 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's consensus reads, "Man of Steel provides exhilarating action and spectacle to overcome its detours into generic blockbuster territory." On Metacritic, the film received a weighted score of 55 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audience polls in North America from CinemaScore for the film tallied an average grade of an "A-" (on a scale of "A+" to "F"), with those under the age of 18 and older than 50 giving it an "A" average. Henry Cavill's performance as Superman earned mixed reviews, with some critics commenting on perceived stiffness and a lack of charisma.
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times said that Man of Steel covered no new ground with regard to Superman films, and instead, "we're plunged back into a mostly underwhelming film, with underdeveloped characters and supercharged fight scenes that drag on and offer nothing new in the way of special-effects creativity". The Boston Globe's Ty Burr wrote, "What’s missing from this Superman saga is a sense of lightness, of pop joy". The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday stated that with "Hans Zimmer’s turgid, over-produced score", the film "is an exceptionally unpleasant viewing experience". For The Denver Post's Lisa Kennedy, the chief problem with Man of Steel is the "rhythm and balance in the storytelling and directing" which resulted in a film that swings "between destructive overstatement and flat-footed homilies."
Kofi Outlaw, Editor-in-Chief at Screenrant.com, gave Man of Steel a 4 out of 5 star review, stating that "Man of Steel has more than earned its keep, and deserves to be THE iconic Superman movie for a whole new generation". He would go on to name Man of Steel the best Superhero movie of 2013. Jim Vejvoda of IGN gave Man of Steel a 9 out of 10 while praising the action sequences and the performances of Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, and Michael Shannon. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said rebooting the franchise again was unnecessary, but that the film was confident enough and Snyder's attention to detail careful enough that audiences could overlook another reboot. PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek, III, wrote, "The path of this flawed savior isn’t quite the one that we have been led to expect and many fans will love that and many fans will decry its comic book-divergent choices. On the other hand, barring Lois Lane’s own knowledge of the dual nature of Clark and Superman (thus depriving one of fiction’s greatest reveals), the hero we see in the final moments of Man of Steel is nothing if not the character Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created… with just a bit more in the 'imperfections' column." Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times stated that, "Man of Steel is more than just Avengers-sized escapism; it's an artistic introduction to a movie superhero we only thought we knew." Time magazine's Richard Corliss said, "The movie finds its true, lofty footing not when it displays Kal-El’s extraordinary powers, but when it dramatizes Clark Kent’s roiling humanity. The super part of Man of Steel is just okay, but the man part is super." In a review on Roger Ebert's website, Matt Zoller Seitz awarded the film three out of four stars, calling it an "astonishing movie" and praising the conflict between Clark and Zod. But he criticized the film for not having more personal and intimate moments between Clark and Lois.
Speaking to Fox Business Channel, Grae Drake, editor of Rotten Tomatoes, expressed dismay over the critical reception, stating, "As much as I love and respect our critics at Rotten Tomatoes, I've got to say I am shocked. Listen, the movie’s not perfect but ... I just cannot fathom it. It was a good movie, you guys."
Reaction to the film among comics creators was mixed. Those who enjoyed it include Jeff Parker, Heidi MacDonald, Ethan Van Sciver, Christos Gage, and former Superman writer Dan Jurgens. Among its detractors were Joe Keatinge, Sean McKeever, Gabriel Hardman, and Mark Waid. MacDonald praised the film's action, drama, and leads Henry Cavill and Amy Adams. Van Sciver singled out Cavill in particular for praise. Gage called it the best Superman film since 1980's Superman II. Hardman said that he liked a lot of the mechanics but did not connect with the characters, which robbed the story of tension. Waid, who wrote the origin miniseries Superman: Birthright, criticized the film for its overall "joyless" tone, and for Superman's decision to kill General Zod, a criticism echoed by other creators. Writer Grant Morrison, who wrote the critically acclaimed miniseries All-Star Superman, expressed mixed reaction to the film, saying that while he "kinda liked it and kinda didn’t", it did not present anything new, as he would have preferred a "second act" type story with Lex Luthor instead of re-establishing the character by presenting information Morrison is already familiar with. Morrison also questioned the need for a superhero to kill, as did artist Neal Adams, who suggested that other avenues were open to Superman when Zod threatened innocents with his heat vision, such as covering his eyes. Adams further took issue with Superman's failure to move the final battle with Zod away from the heavily populated Metropolis, as the character did at the end of Superman II.
Main Article: Man of Steel (Novel)
The Novelization of Man of Steel was written by Greg Cox and released on June 18, 2013 a few days after the feature film was released. The Novel follows the plot of the film closely with only a few changes visible, and sometimes expanding upon other scenes.
- This is the second time that a Batman film series creator has taken over the Superman film project. This happened when original Batman film series creator Tim Burton was attached to the Superman project back in 1995, eventually leaving for Sleepy Hollow after spending $30 miliion on production.
- Tony Scott, Matt Reeves, Jonathan Liebesman, Darren Aronofsky, Ben Affleck, and Duncan Jones were considered for directing before Zack Snyder was chosen.
- Actors Joe Manganiello, Armie Hammer, and Matthew Goode were considered to play Superman before Henry Cavill was chosen.
- Cavill was attached to Superman: Flyby, a previous Superman film incarnation that was to be released in 2004. The project fell through and Superman Returns was released with Brandon Routh in the role.
- Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Olivia Wilde, and Jessica Biel were considered to play Lois Lane. Anne Hathaway went on to play Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises.
- Blaze Comics, the publisher of Booster Gold comics, is referenced in the Metropolis skyline.
- Man of Steel is the first Superman film that does not feature Jimmy Olsen, however the character Jenny Jurwich was strongly rumored to be a female version of him.
- The actors portraying Kal-El's two fathers in this film have both played Robin Hood in feature films.
- The storyline is inspired by the Superman origin story comic books Earth One, Birthright, Secret Origin, and The Man of Steel. Some scenes are directly taken from Birthright.
- LexCorp is seen several times throughout the film, alluding to Lex Luthor's appearance in future films.
- S.T.A.R. Labs is seen in the film briefly, alluding to Cyborg's appearance in the Justice League film.
- A Watchmen button is seen briefly in the film.
- A poster reading "Keep Calm and Call Batman" can be seen briefly during Superman's fight with Zod.
- Wayne Enterprises is seen once in the movie on a satellite while Superman is fighting Zod in space briefly.